Company of Heroes 3 preps for first big post-Sega update

Having parted ways with Sega after a major restructuring in Sega Europe, Company of Heroes 3 developer Relic is releasing its first major patch for the WWII strategy game tomorrow, several weeks ahead of schedule. That means we get a closer look at the two new battlegroups the update is adding, the British Forces’ Australian Defense and the Deutsche Afrikakorps’ Battlefield Espionage.

As we reported last week, Relic Entertainment is now an independent games studio, following Sega’s sale of its shares in the studio to a London-based investment firm, Emona Capital. The move clearly came as a surprise to Relic, and the Company of Heroes 3 overview videos below still show Sega’s logo in the title cards. Relic plans to continue supporting the RTS game, and has even accelerated the schedule for 1.6.0 update, which is now launching April 2 instead of on April 23, as originally planned.

The Australian Defense battlegroup was modeled on the Australian 9th Division, which saw service in World War II in North Africa, notably at Tobruk and El Alamein. The battlegroup includes light infantry squads, which carry Lee-Enfield rifles that can be upgraded with scopes. They can also build several defensive structures, including sangars, barbed wire, and machine gun emplacements.

While the infantrymen don’t carry grenades or have any anti-tank weapons, the battlegroup can deploy two-pounder light anti-tank gun teams, which have fast firing rates, low reload times, and wide arcs. The Aussies can also use defensive tactics to build bigger gun emplacements for the massive seventeen-pounder gun and Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun, which can also be used to take out enemy infantry and light armor.

On the German side, the Battlefield Espionage group is divided into two halves: infiltration and disruption. The idea is to enable a sneakier playstyle, striking where the enemy doesn’t expect and siphoning resources away from their economy.

The new Funkpanzerwagon can either be called in, or used as an upgrade for an existing 250 halftrack. It’s a non-combat vehicle, but it can grant the camouflage ability to nearby troops – although crucially, it cannot use this ability on itself. Camouflaged soldiers can use the first strike bonus, which grants additional damage and accuracy for a short time.

The Battlefield Espionage group also gets a classic Company of Heroes item, the remote-controlled Goliath. This is effectively an early drone, loaded with 110 pounds of explosive. You can deploy these out of the back of a Funkpanzerwagon, camouflage it, and then roll it up to enemy formations to do serious amounts of damage. The catch is that it’s slow, vulnerable to small arms fire, and can be spotted by minesweeper units – so it’ll be important to use it carefully.

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The Battlefield espionage group also has a pair of deployable beacons that can spot enemy units, grant camouflage to friendly infantry, steal resources from enemy control points, or make your own control points more difficult to capture. These beacons are camouflaged themselves, but scouts will be able to spot them.

The patch also introduces some new features, like a vote to surrender option in automatch games. Failure to use this – and simply quitting instead – will activate the new automatch cooldown, which gets longer each time a player quits without first surrendering.

You’ll also be able to select missions from the single-player Italian campaign and North African Operation in order to replay key events. The Italian campaign in particular can be a bit of a slog, but the setpiece missions are some of the best ones in the series, so this is definitely a welcome addition.

You can check out our Company of Heroes 3 review, or have a look at our Company of Heroes 3 beginner tips and tricks if you’re just getting acquainted with the WW2 strategy game.

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